The Greens candidate running against Tanya Plibersek at the next federal election has hit back at reports criticising his old social media posts about Mardi Gras and The Imperial.
In recent articles published by both the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, a handful of Matthew Thompson’s old social media posts were labelled “crude” and “controversial”, in attempts to bring his viability as a candidate into question.
Another showed Thompson at the Mardi Gras Parade earlier this year, after having marched with the Greens. The caption read: ‘Weekends of slut-dropping benders at ARQ finally paid off in the form of me aggressively shimmying my way at the front of the Greens’ float.”
Speaking to the Star Observer, Thompson said he initially cackled at the articles maligning his posts, before realising they were symptoms of a political climate often shrouded in conservatism and respectability politics.
“I think [these reactions] to my posts come from the fact that we’re in a time of change,” he said.
“For so long, the people that have held power have been conservative, old, straight, white men, but we’re now in this upheaval where women, people of colour, and queer people are clawing back.
“We’re taking that power back, and that makes them angry. But it’s 2019, and time for things to change.”
Growing up in Newcastle, Thompson said he rarely saw himself represented in media or politics, leading to feelings of isolation.
However, in his bid for Plibersek’s seat, he hopes he can provide that representation himself.
“[These articles] are people’s introduction to me… the Tele trying to put me back in my place,” he said.
“It makes me angry, because when other queer people see queer people like me step up and get hammered back like this, what message does it send?
“It says we’re okay with you being queer, but we don’t want to see it.
“It says you can’t be visibly queer and try to run for parliament.”
In his campaign ahead of the federal election, Thompson hopes to talk about housing, climate change, and in particular education, as someone who went through the TAFE system.
“I think politics is broken, and we need real people with colourful back stories – and interesting Instagram posts – willing to get in there and shake things up,” he said.
“Climate change is a runaway freight train, housing is becoming more inaccessible for young people, and education is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
“We need to be at the table, because it’s straight and old white men that have gotten us into this mess in the first place.”
Thompson will run against Plibersek for the seat of Sydney at the federal election, a seat Plibersek has held since 1998.